What’s Perimenopause and How Do I Know When I’m in It?

July 5, 2018
Distraught woman awake in the night, she is exhausted and cannot sleep
Hot flashes, trouble sleeping, mood swings. As a capper for the years spent dealing with our periods in the first place, the many symptoms of menopause seem like the worst cosmic joke. But consider perimenopause, the stage right before menopause, when we deal with some of the emerging symptoms of menopause and our periods on top of that. How is that fair?

Perimenopause is different from premenopause. During premenopause, you’re still menstruating and have no menopausal symptoms. You may undergo slight hormonal changes, but with no noticeable changes to your body or mood.

Perimenopause typically begins 8 to 10 years before menopause, during your 30s or 40s, as your estrogen levels decrease, or fluctuate less regularly. As perimenopause progresses, decreases in estrogen become more pronounced. Perimenopause ends when menopause begins. Oh joy!

What to Expect During Perimenopause

There’s no way to stop perimenopause or menopause from happening. But knowing what to expect and understanding how to cope with it are your best defense.

Some of the symptoms you may experience during perimenopause are:

As your estrogen levels drop, you may also start to experience some of the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, depression and anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, and vaginal dryness.

What You Can Do

While you can’t reverse the changes that come with perimenopause, you can address the symptoms and take action to improve the way you feel.

Also, review what’s working and what’s not working for you regularly, and talk to your doctor about it. The changes you’re going through will change themselves, and what works one year may be unnecessary or counterproductive the next. Symptoms that were acute will lessen, or go away entirely. It can be hard to see the upside, but it’s there, if you look hard enough.

You’ve got this.

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